Arsenal

Thierry Henry: Arsenal legend reveals struggles with depression after ‘lying for a very long time’

Thierry Henry has opened up about his struggles with depression, with the Arsenal legend admitting he “cried almost every day for no reason” at the height of the Covid pandemic.

Henry stands as arguably the greatest player in Arsenal‘s history, having won two Premier League titles and scored a club-record 228 goals between 1999 and the end of his second spell with the club in 2012.

The French forward went on to win the Champions League under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona in 2009, before moving into coaching.

In between two separate spells as Roberto Martinez’s assistant with the Belgian national team, Henry managed Monaco and MLS club Montreal Impact. He was appointed France U21 manager in August 2023.

It was during Henry’s time at Montreal that the Covid pandemic hit, with the 46-year-old cut off from his family as global restrictions were imposed.

Appearing on The Diary Of A CEO podcast, Henry revealed that the isolation of lockdown pushed him to breaking point.

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He said: “Throughout my career, I must have been in depression.

“Did I know it? No. Did I do something about it? Obviously no. But I had adapted in a certain way. I was lying for a very long time because society wasn’t ready to hear what I had to say.

“Everything came at once, especially during the Covid time.

“I knew it before but I was lying to myself. I was making sure those feelings weren’t going too far, I put the cape on. But when you’re not a player anymore, you can’t put that cape on anymore.

“We tend to run instead of facing our problems, that is what we do all the time. We try to stay busy, we try to avoid the problem or not think about it.

“Covid happened and I asked: ‘Why are you running, what are you doing?’

“I was isolated and not being able to see my kids for a year was tough. I don’t even need to explain that one.

Something like that had to happen to me to understand vulnerability, empathy, crying. Understand that emotions are emotions. Anger is normal but don’t become angry. Jealousy is normal but don’t become jealous.

“I was crying almost every day for no reason, tears were coming. I don’t know why but maybe they were waiting for a very long time.

“I don’t know whether that needed to come out. It was weird, but in a good way. There was stuff I couldn’t control and I didn’t try to.

“You have been told since you’re young, whether at home or in your job, ‘Don’t be that guy, don’t show you’re vulnerable. If you cry, what are they going to think?’

“I was crying but, technically, it was the young Thierry crying. He was crying for everything he didn’t get.”

Henry went on to describe a moving moment that persuaded him to quit the Montreal job, deciding against a return to Canada just as he was about to leave his family again.

He explained: “I was about to leave again, I said bye to my kids. Next thing you know, I put my bags down and everyone starts to cry.

“From the nanny to my girlfriend to the kids. For the first time, because at that moment it was the little me that felt it, I am like: ‘Oh, they see me’ – not the football player, not the accolades. I felt human.
They were crying for me. I felt it for the first time then and the little me, for the first time, got fed with love. I put my bags down, I stayed and I stopped coaching in Montreal.

“‘What am I doing? They love Thierry, not Thierry Henry.’

“For the first time I felt human. They saw me, the human being, and it felt nice.”

Henry suggested his issues may stem from his childhood, with his father often dissatisfied even as a teenage Henry was emerging as a star of the future.

Recalling an occasion when he scored every goal in a 6-0 win, he said: “I was 15 and you can already see if someone is good or not good. We won 6-0 and I scored six goals.

“I knew the aura of my dad, I could tell if the man was happy or not.

“I turned around, I can tell you from any posture whether he was happy or not happy. We arrived in the car, there is silence. I am like: ‘Shall I talk or not talk?’ That was how we were.

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